Filed Under:Agent Broker, Personal Lines Business

Insurers raising Homeowners' rates in Massachusetts

Industry officials say the severe winter of 2015 is behind the rate hikes. (Photo: Michael Dwyer/AP Photo)
Industry officials say the severe winter of 2015 is behind the rate hikes. (Photo: Michael Dwyer/AP Photo)

More Massachusetts homeowners are seeing higher insurance bills as several smaller companies follow industry leaders in raising rates after last year’s damaging winter storms, The Boston Globe reported.

About a dozen home insurance companies have increased average rates between 4% and 10% in recent weeks, or will do so soon, according to filings with the Massachusetts Division of Insurance. This follows increases by two of the state’s largest insurers, Webster, Mass.-based Mapfre USA Corp. and Boston-based Safety Insurance Co., which each boosted homeowner premiums by an average of about 9% last year, the newspaper reported.

Average rates for the 154,000 customers of Quincy, Mass.-based Arbella Insurance Group, the state’s third-largest home insurer, climbed 8.7% Jan. 1. By mid-January, customers renewing their policies with Andover, Mass.-based Andover Cos., which owns Merrimack Mutual Fire Insurance Co. and Cambridge Mutual Fire Insurance Co., will see premiums rise by an average of almost 10%, the Globe said.

Merrimack and Cambridge, which together insure nearly 70,000 homeowners, also are boosting their minimum deductible to $500 from $250.

On March 1, the Rhode Island insurer Amica Mutual Insurance Co. will raise rates on its 65,500 Massachusetts customers by an average of 5%.

Amica, Andover, and Arbella declined to comment for the Globe story.

Insurance industry officials and analysts say severe winter in 2015 and other catastrophic weather events of recent years, triggered the need for higher rates, the newspaper said. Last winter’s snowfall broke records and caused expensive damage to roofs and walls, requiring insurers to pay more than $1 billion in claims in Massachusetts alone.

Related: Boston's snow job

But the rate increases have become controversial, sparking calls from lawmakers and other state officials for greater scrutiny of the Massachusetts Division of Insurance, which regulates the industry and reviews rate requests. Consumer groups want regulators to hold formal hearings on the rate increases. The Massachusetts Legislature is considering proposals that would require the Division of Insurance to make rate requests public — before they are approved, the Globe reported.

Related: Winter storm prep for property owners

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